Form Security


I recently learnt that there are two methods of bots messing around with forms on your website.

The following test is quoted from HTML Form Guide

a) As a relay for sending bulk unsolicited emails
If you are not validating your form fields (on the serve side) before sending the emails, then hackers can alter your email headers to send the bulk unsolicited emails. (also known as email injection) For example, hackers can place the following code in one of your form fields and make your form processor script send an email to an unintended recipient:

[email protected]%0ABcc:[email protected]

The code above is adding another email address to the CC list of the email. Spammers can send thousands of emails using this exploit. Your host will not be happy with this and may warn you or even ban your web site.

The best way to prevent this spammer exploit is to validate the fields used in the mail() function(fields like email, subject of the email, name etc). Check for the presence of any “new line” (rn) in those fields. The email form article contains sample code that does the same.
b) For Sending spam messages to you

There are programs known as ‘spam-bots’ that leech through the web pages looking for web forms. When found, those ‘bots’ just fills the fields with a spam message and submits. Eventually you will start getting many hundred submissions send by those spam bots and you will find it difficult to separate genuine submissions from spam messages.

The solution for this problem is to use a mechanism to identify human submitters from ‘bots’. CAPTCHA is one of such tests.

I have included two links in my Resources category to help against these two types of attack

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